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Off-plan project success driven by strong buyer demand

Off-plan project success driven by strong buyer demand

The unpredictability of 2020’s first two financial quarters resulted in potential buyers distancing themselves from the real-estate market. National and international crises heightened concerns that already existed over a lack of property differentiation, medium-density stock and government funding support.

However, for Canberra’s off-plan market, growth has been steady and very much in line with the projections made by the Blackshaw Projects team earlier in the year. Our market analysis and inside knowledge revealed that a number of factors indicated a year of growth and expansion – and 2020 has not disappointed.

The ACT’s medium density market has been structurally undersupplied since buyers became concerned about accessing finance to settle, in the wake of the Banking Royal Commission (which slowed down off-plan sales activity in 2018 and 2019). Astute developers responded to these concerns in early 2019 by maintaining or increasing their project pipelines to deliver quality assets that cater to a range of lifestyles.

By the first quarter of 2020, sales activity was building momentum month on month. The COVID-19 restrictions that impacted many industries throughout the economy did not impede the off-plan market – in fact, they created a range of opportunities for the team to increase the efficiency of its sales process. As a result, qualified purchasers received personal consultation by appointment as a broader range of apartment and townhouse options became available.

Many off-plan developments in Canberra now feature greater outdoor space (larger courtyards and balconies), opportunities to create bespoke homes from multiple apartments, increased options for floor plan layout and a better range of locations (rural, suburban and city centre). This innovative approach signals an important change in project development, which the market has responded to enthusiastically.

In fact, over the last few months Canberra has become the strongest property market nationally, trailing only Sydney and Hobart in terms of annual growth. Both house and unit values have experience growth rates, due to low borrowing costs, lower than expected unemployment rates and high levels of housing affordability.

October and November are expected to be a busy period for Canberra’s off-plan market, as new projects – such as Molonglo Falls in Coombs and The Residences in Turner – have become available for pre-sale in the lead up to Christmas. Over the past five months buyers have become more engaged with this market, following the announcement of Federal and ACT Government incentives that encourage new property purchases and investments.

“The next two months will be particularly busy for us, as 34 sales with a gross value of $17.59 million will be carried to exchange from September. As we expected earlier in the year, our off-plan portfolio will provide investors and homeowners with a diverse range of options throughout Canberra,” says Blackshaw Real Estate Managing Director, Andrew Chamberlain.

“It’s been a hectic year but one we’d prepared for, having allocated experienced resources to each project to ensure our ability to deliver sales volume at speed. I’m so proud of the team, they’ve achieved a number of sales which have resulted in accelerated construction timeframes and pre-sale records.”

While Blackshaw Real Estate has always featured a project marketing team, market opportunities throughout 2020 have accelerated this aspect of the business. In recent months, the Blackshaw Projects team has increased its capacity to service a pipeline of exclusively listed developments.   

“During 2020, we’ve increased our stock by investing in productive relationships with a select group of clients, known for their ability to provide innovative off-plan sales solutions and quality properties,” adds Chamberlain.

The growth and development of the business underpins the team’s ability to attract and retain premium sales and staff. This includes Sam Dodimead, a renowned leader in Canberra’s project marketing space, who continues to work closely with the corporate team on the growth and development of our projects business. 

Maintaining a successful Projects team requires a range of specialised resources, particularly as this aspect of property marketing must appeal to both developers and purchasers. Our successful track record in off-plan developments is the result of our long-term relationships with Australia’s most prominent developers, architects, builders and interior designers.

This year alone the team have successfully instructed 103 sales with a total value of $55 million. Their current exclusively listed developments include Fresco in Greenway, Aria in Denman Prospect, Valo in Coombs, Joyero in Dickson, Molonglo Falls in Coombs, The Residences in Turner, Norrebro in Watson and Acacia in Throsby.

As developers and architects become more creative and innovative, the ultimate winners are the investors and homeowners. Urban design principles are increasingly focused on Canberra’s authentic connection to the great outdoors by featuring biophilic design, central atriums, light flow, cross ventilation, landscaped gardens and even waterfalls.

“Molonglo Falls, Canberra’s first apartment project centred around a waterfall feature, exemplifies market demand for high quality projects,” says Dodimead. “Since launch, we’ve broken the Coombs sales record for an apartment three times.”

The first sale at Molonglo Falls, conducted by the Blackshaw Projects team, was a record-breaking three-bedroom apartment for $600,000.


Stay up-to-date on the latest developments by visiting the Blackshaw Projects website or following us on social media. You can also register your interest in upcoming projects by emailing

Blackshaw Corporate

27 Bougainville Street
Manuka ACT 2603